Crem says no

Charles 4 Comments

Up at Sunderland crem there’s a book where you can write little messages to whoever you’ve come to visit. Isn’t that great? Linda Johnson has been popping in and writing little messages to her mum for the last eight years — and to her dad since Christmas. As she says, not everyone can stretch to flowers, but everyone can afford to jot a wee line to a loved one.

It’s a fabulous idea, a lovely touch, one that you’d like to see adopted everywhere. Genius. And doubtless a few crematorium managers will read this and… yawn. You don’t encounter much in the way of a service culture in many of our crems. You can normally gauge their service values by the state of their toilets.

Where were we? Oh yes, Sunderland’s brilliant book where you can write messages to the dead. Well, it’s an ex-book. It’s been snatched back. Binned, possibly. Turns out it was being abused. Linda had, let’s be kind, got completely the wrong end of the stick– together with all the other folk who’ve been writing messages to their dead ones for years and years. Doh, they were supposed to use the book to write what they thought about the crematorium — it was a comments book!!

If they’d known that, someone would probably have hung it from a nail in the toilet.

Now, you may say in a sentimentalising sort of way that the people at the crem, seeing what an excellent service their comments book was providing under the informal terms of its change of use, should have kept it where it was, nipped down to Staples and bought… a comments book, ta-da.

Don’t be so bloody soft. You’ve got to take a firm line with the bereaved, everyone knows that. Give them an inch and you don’t know where they’ll be commemorating their dead next. Come on, look at it from the crem’s point of view. They ALREADY HAVE A BOOK. Yes. With fees starting at a mere £47 and going up to an incredibly modest £263. “We also have an electronic book which enables families to view different dates of entry from the book of remembrance if they cannot attend on the specific anniversary of their loved one’s passing“, whatever the hell that means. 

So there you go, Linda, get yer chequebook out. Sorted. Come on, they’re on your side, the crem for, as they say, “We always listen to what people tell us about how they would like to see bereavement services delivered and are considering what options are available to go with what is already available.

Better now?



  1. Charles

    Turns out…
    I’m trying to think if there would have been a way to disguise the messages as comments.
    Dear Mum,
    We’re so pleased we cremated you here. It’s a lovely place with well-kept grounds. However, the toilets could do with some air freshener.
    All our love…

    1. Charles

      Yay!! Reason triumphs …or is it publicity? Whatever, I’m glad for the mourners of Sunderland. I’ve noticed one of these books at a crem near me and often pondered on the powerful need to physically write words from our hearts into a book. I guess it’s the need to record, to mark, to leave permanent ongoing memorials to those we love in a public place…especially the place where we were last connected with their body – memorials written by our own hand with a pen, on paper, not carved for us once and fixed in granite or scribed by a calligrapher in a special lookylikey neat remembrance book. But scribbled and embellished and sometimes crossed out and corrected and squeezed into the box in the comments book – every birthday, every Christmas, every anniversary…I love reading them and can almost feel the love and passion that inspired them.

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